Members of Madison’s Finance Committee reluctantly approved a solution to a financial snag in the major Judge Doyle Square development project that would cost the city an additional $11 million to keep the $186 million plan moving forward.
The public-private partnership with Chicago-based Beitler Real Estate will bring a hotel, apartments, retail and commercial space, a bicycle center and parking on the two blocks that now hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking garage.
Due to rising construction costs, resulting in an increase from $32 million to $48.5 million for the private component on Block 88, Beitler representatives said they could not afford the apartment project as planned.
To compensate, the city staff team recommended constructing the accessory parking and a structural slab needed to support the proposed apartment complex.
“I feel completely boxed into a corner because we have to select this option because it’s absolutely the right land use decision,” Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, said. “But I feel like we’ve made some serious errors as a city in our negotiation with Beitler, and that’s really frustrating and quite unacceptable that they are going to have this play out without ramifications.”
The favored recommendation would maximize the city’s above ground development potential, maintain control of 160 parking spaces for future development and ensure continuous access to the underground public parking garage during future construction, city project manager George Austin said.
“I firmly believe it is in the best interest of the city,” Mayor Paul Soglin said of the recommended option.
Other options include building a roof slab above the underground parking and first floor retail at an estimated cost of $5.4 million. However, that would would preclude building more parking and uses above it in the future. A third option would be to build the podium with one floor of parking at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.
Under the resolution, the city would increase the 2018 capital budget by $4.4 million from Parking Utility reserves to increase the total project budget to $50.4 million.
While city staff have presented options to move forward with the development, committee members and alders expressed frustration with the developer.
“It still kind of feels like Beitler has pulled a bait and switch on this,” Ald. Mark Clear, District 19, said.
Soglin said the city’s frustration will help set the tone of future discussions and negotiations with Beitler.
“We have to define this in terms of what is in the best interest of the city,” Soglin said. “If that should be a decision that doesn’t take the developer out to the woodshed, we’re going to have to live with that.”